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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Food & Dining

Nimble kitchen can dish appetizers to unexpected

Tribune correspondents
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 09:06 PM

For some reason, surprise guests seem to be the trend for the 2009 holiday season. Are ya feelin' us?

We've already had seven unexpected guests, and we haven't even reached the megaseason for drop-ins.

Don't get us wrong: We love our family and friends. But there is a degree of panic that accompanies a phone call received at 9 the night before those drop-in guests will be arriving.

The first phase of panic, inevitably, is, "We have to clean this house!" The next phase is more about irritation: "Our schedules barely allow us to breathe, and now we have to entertain?" And then there's the third, and rawest, phase: "What will we feed these people?"

If you're like us, you have 1,000 salts, spices, condiments and cheeses in your fridge at any given time. And, well, that's about it. Smoked sea salt, no problem. Fresh goat cheese, check. Black truffle butter, got it. But anything else that resembles food is a reach.

We Sherpas, though, are a resourceful pair, and we have come up with two very fast appetizer recipes that will stave off your company's hunger long enough for you to suggest a local restaurant where, with any luck, they will pick up the tab. More importantly, these apps are made from common ingredients found in everyone's home. If you're saying, "Not my home!" may we suggest you stock up on these items asap. You can thank us later.

Visit the Sherpas at www.cooksncompany.com and www.culinarysherpas.com.

BLUEBERRY AND GOAT CHEESE CHIPS

A cool and creamy burst of tart and sweet on crispy chips. Wonton skins are super versatile and can be frozen raw.

20 each small wonton skins (round or square)

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/8 cup olive oil

1 cup fresh blueberries (or blackberries and raspberries)

2 cups soft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil cookie sheet with canola oil. Lightly brush each side of wonton skins with olive oil. Lay wonton skins individually on cookie sheet so they are completely flat and not touching. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes until golden. Watch them carefully because they will turn quickly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Using a mixer, blend blueberries and goat cheese until well incorporated. Spoon 1 tablespoon of blueberry mixture onto each wonton chip.

Makes 10 servings.

CHICKEN SAUSAGE, APPLE AND CHEDDAR SKEWERS

Kind of like apple pie on a stick, but with sausage! Sausages can be frozen and make a great quick meal.

4 each fully cooked Chicken and Apple Smoked Sausage (Whole Foods has a great selection)

1/2 block aged sharp cheddar cheese

1 pint cherry tomatoes

40 designer toothpicks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each sausage into 10-12 rounds. Place rounds on a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes, just until sausage is hot to touch. Remove from oven. Cube cheddar cheese into bite-size pieces. Skewer warm sausage, cherry tomato and cheddar cube.

Makes 20 servings.

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